The Mythical State Of The Union Polling Bump: What’s Different This Year

WASHINGTON – Polling bumps from State of the Union addresses are largely the stuff of myth. That’s the message of before-and-after polls conducted over the last three decades. What might add a twist to this year’s address, however, is an unu…

WASHINGTON – Polling bumps from State of the Union addresses are largely the stuff of myth. That’s the message of before-and-after polls conducted over the last three decades. What might add a twist to this year’s address, however, is an unusual context — a new Republican House Speaker seated behind President Barack Obama and a recent bump in Obama’s job approval ratings — that could make for some unexpected impact.

Last year at about this time, Jeff Jones of the Gallup Organization authored a report describing the lack of impact of State of the Union addresses on public opinion. “Despite the amount of attention they receive,” Smith wrote, “these speeches rarely affect a president’s public standing in a meaningful way.” He summarized data from 30 years worth of polling conducted just before and after the speeches and found the average change in approval was a decline of less than a full percentage point.

The one exception to this rule was Bill Clinton’s address in 1998. As I wrote a few years ago:

Read More…
More on State of the Union